Leonard Ray Pamplin, age 90, passed away Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at Hendrick Medical Center, with his loved ones by his side. His family will honor him with a memorial service at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hillcrest Church of Christ, 650 E. Ambler Avenue, Abilene, Texas, officiated by Nathan Burrow. Interment will be held at the Texas State Veteran Cemetery in Abilene, at a later date.
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Leonard was born in Long Beach, California, Dec. 24, 1930, to Howard I. and Bernice G. Pamplin. He excelled in music and began learning to play the piano at age 7. He switched to alto saxophone when he was 12 years old and played it the rest of his life. He graduated from Huntington Beach High School in California and then attended Westlake College of Music in Hollywood. He got his barber’s license in 1950 and retired from the profession in 2016. He enlisted in the US Naval Reserve in 1950 during the Korean Conflict and served aboard the light cruiser USS Manchester as a barber, seeing action in that theater during the last six months of the conflict.
Following his release from active duty, he enrolled in Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and earned a BA degree in Bible with a minor in Biblical languages, and continued with graduate work in Bible at Pepperdine. In 1960 he became the pulpit minister for the Central Church of Christ in San Luis Obispo, California. While a minister there in 1963, he married Patricia Hockaday, a widow and mother of two, of Abilene, Texas.
He remained the minister at San Luis Obispo until 1966 when he and his family now numbering five departed for the mission field in Hong Kong, China. There he and Patricia studied the Cantonese dialect of Chinese. They moved to Santa Ana, California, in 1971, where he managed the family hair business. He served as a deacon in the Northside Church of Christ in Santa Ana, and during this time he and his wife sponsored two Vietnamese refugee families from Camp Pendleton and took care of four foster children, three of them Chinese refugees from Cambodia. They also supported a Chinese orphan girl for many years and continued to help her after she came of age.
He moved his family to Abilene in 1979 where he was engaged in business as a barber and other businesses. He joined the Abilene Community Band in 1981. During his lifetime, he played with many big bands including a Navy band and small jazz combos. He was also an accomplished clarinetist and took up the oboe when he was in high school. He played oboe in several symphony orchestras during his career as a musician.
Pamplin was preceded in death by his father, mother, older brother Howard I. Pamplin, Jr., wife Patricia Pamplin, and an infant son, Brad Pamplin. He is survived by a brother Elton and his wife, Sue of Roseville, California; son Bill Hockaday Pamplin and wife Jill of Zavalla; son David Hockaday Pamplin and wife Suzanne of San Antonio; daughter Shan Martinez and husband Richard of Abilene; and son Dr. Kim Pamplin and wife Galanell of Abilene. He is also survived by ten grandchildren: Shaylan Pamplin of Houston; Rachel Pamplin of Minsk, Belarus; Daniel Pamplin and wife Kate of Round Rock; Kimberly Pamplin of College Station; Drew, Brynn, and Jade Martinez, all of Abilene; Madison Pamplin of Austin; Drake Pamplin and wife Jessica of Frisco; and Ashlen Pamplin of Abilene; two great-grandchildren: Abigail and Isabelle Pamplin of Round Rock; and many nieces and nephews.
Those wishing to honor Len’s memory may do so through gifts to the Abilene Community Band, c/o Joe Stephens, 2451 Meadow Lake Dr., Abilene, TX 79606. Services entrusted to North's Funeral Home, online condolences may be made at www.northsfuneralhome.com